In the past month, several European countries showed a small increase in the level of background radiation. The source of this background radiation still have not been found. First, a small increase of radiation, which were observed traces of iodine-131, was recorded in January, on the Norwegian-Russian border, then the same small increase was noted on several other European countries.
According to the latest rumors, this may be due to certain nuclear tests in Russia, however, official reports indicate that, most likely, the reason may be to crash on some pharmaceutical plant, which somehow kept silent.
Despite the fact that the increase in radiation levels was recorded in January, officials of Finland and France made statements about the incident just now, commenting that after the change of the background over Norway, a similar pattern was observed until the end of January in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.
With the direct question of why Norway is not reported in the last month, when was the first recorded outbreak in the Northern region of the country, Finnmark, Astrit Leland from the Norwegian Agency for radiation protection authority (NRPA) said:
"Measurements in svanvike (village in the County of Finnmark) in January showed very low growth. It was therefore decided to carry out measurements in other neighboring countries, such as Finland. It was noted that the level of growth poses no danger to humans and the environment. Therefore, we considered that this news is not worth the publicity".
Last week, the French Institute for radiation protection and nuclear safety (IRSN) has announced that levels of radioactive iodine-131 in the atmosphere of Europe in January "did not cause any concern" and from that moment returned to normal. But more questions is not the fact of high levels of background radiation, but rather the fact that no one can accurately say that it could cause.
What is certain, is the fact that the half-life of iodine-131 is only 8 days, so the detection in the atmosphere may indicate that a release has actually occurred quite recently.
"Release is likely to have taken place recently. However, after that we did not progress beyond the level of speculation", — said Brian Gornall of the British society for radiological protection.
Currently, the most convincing hypothesis, according to European experts, is the assumption that the nature of the radioactive iodine-131 originates somewhere in Eastern Europe. Some of the conspiracy theorists immediately began to pass it off as proof of Russian covert nuclear testing in Antarctica. However, no official confirmation of this was found. Other experts say only about the increase in the atmosphere concentration of iodine-131. If it really was about the nuclear tests, the report would show not only the presence of this chemical element, and many others.
"At the time of the measurements the weather was very bad, so to track the source, or at least a specific area, could be a release, was not possible. And yet the measurements performed in several places in Europe, may indicate that the emission occurred in the Eastern parts," — shared Leland.
Given the nature of the detected isotopes, experts say that, most likely, the increase in the level of background radiation is associated with some accident at a pharmaceutical plant because iodine-131 is widely used, for example, in the production of medicines aimed at treating a specific type of cancer.
"because the atmosphere was only discovered elevated concentrations of iodine-131 and it was not marked other radioactive elements, we believe that its source is a plant for the production of radioactive drugs" — says Leland.
"Iodine-131 is widely applied, for example, in the treatment of cancer."
Interestingly, similar incidents have occurred in the past. For example, is almost completely the same occurred in 2011, when in the atmosphere of several European countries within a few weeks there was an increased concentration of iodine-131. At the time of announcement of this incident, officials were also not able to tell anything about the source of the emission, however, the option with the accident at one of nuclear power plants were immediately excluded.
"If the leak occurred in the reactor of a nuclear power station, the atmosphere would have been detected and other elements. However, we found there was only iodine-131", — I commented then in 2011, Didier champion, head of the Department of environmental protection Institute of radiation protection and nuclear safety.
It is Noteworthy that just a week earlier, the scientific journal PLOS One published an article indicating that the source of a release of iodine-131 in 2011 was a malfunction in the filtration system of the Budapest Institute of isotopes that produces many types of radioactive isotopes used in medical research and the development of new drugs.
As far as the present case, the trial is still underway. Recently, the U.S. air force sent to Britain a special Boeing WC-135 with equipment on Board which will help to narrow the search radius of the emission source.